The 2023 Women’s Prize longlist has been announced! After the 1991 Booker Prize shortlist was announced, then called the Man Booker Prize, and no women authors appeared on it, a group of journalists met and wanted more. Together, they founded the Women’s Committee and began the quest for starting a literary prize of their own, exclusively for women authors.
Now in their 28th year, the committee chooses what they deem the best contemporary works by women writers yearly to honor with the prize, announcing a longlist of 16 books, and later, on April 26, a shortlist of just 6 books.
Chair of judges Louise Minchin said of the 2023 longlisted books: “[They are] a glorious celebration of the boundless imagination and creative ambition of women writers over the past year. . . . They all offer fresh perspectives on history and humanity, exploring hard truths with empathy, sensitivity, directness, and sometimes infectious humor.” This year’s judges, along with Louise Minchin, are Rachel Joyce, Bella Mackie, Irenosen Okojie, and Tulip Siddiq.
The winner of the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced on June 14.
The longlist books are:
Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris
Children of Paradise by Camilla Grudova
Cursed Bread by Sophie Mackintosh
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Homesick by Jennifer Croft
I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
Pod by Laline Paull
Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin
The Books at a Glance
About half (7 of 16) books are written by authors of color, and while the majority of authors are residents of the United States or United Kingdom, there are a few others in the mix—like NoViolet Bulawayo, author of Glory, who is from Zimbabwe. There is also a healthy mix of debut writers and seasoned award-winners, from first-time novelists Tara Stringfellow (Memphis) and Parini Shroff (The Bandit Queens) to Sophie Mackintosh (Cursed Bread), whose debut The Water Cure was shortlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize. Another author to note is Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick, who is also a translator, notably the translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights and The Books of Jacob, among many others.
Looking at the overall list of 16 books, there are some common themes throughout the list. In addition to having similar themes, they also represent issues we currently experience in society today, mirroring these issues in fiction. Many of the books feature family sagas, with family members split over different decisions or paths taken and disagreeing with loved ones in ways that may hurt. Many of the novels feature women who, for one reason or another, find themselves setting out on their own, fighting a larger system or set of rules, to carve their own path. And others focus their language pointedly at the horrors, catastrophes, and challenges we face in the world today.
Whether you’re looking for a satirical horror commenting on our obsession with media and content (Children of Paradise and I’m a Fan) or a historical saga (The Marriage Portrait and Wandering Souls), there’s a bit of everything in this longlist.